Yesterday Mom and I went to the Apple Orchard to pick some apples. There are bushels of wind fall apples. Because the trees are standard size, the remaining apples at the tops of the trees are virtually unreachable, even with a very long apple picker. (frustrating!) You would need the added advantage of a tractor bucket to reach most of them and we didn't have one. So, we went to the back of the orchard and worked our way forward, sorting through the ground apples and picking up the unblemished ones. You can still get too many apples this way. In the end, I had to just walk away toting my 5 gallon pail, and leaving bushels behind for another day.
Each time I would find a large, perfect looking apple, which when lifted proved to have too much damage, I would take a couple of bites just to console myself. As I bit into one under one of the largest, healthiest trees, my mind suddenly went down a familiar path... hard crunch> sweet then tart> grainy texture> and then the unique, subtle, sub-acidic finish...
I looked around orienting myself in the orchard. "Mom, taste this apple". I handed it to her as I picked up another noting it's physical characteristics. "This is a Northern Spy right?" Mom agreed, yes.
"I think that's my apple. In fact, I'm almost certain"
The Northern Spy is a late apple discovered in the finger lakes region of NY in the early 1800s.
Skin color is a green ground, flushed with red stripes where not shaded, and it produces fairly late in the season. It is a hard apple with a more tart taste. Excellent for storage and often used for cooking, and is one of the most sought after pie apples. It is also noted for it's high Vitamin C content and for being the apple with one of the highest anti-oxidant levels. Awesome!
Ripens Late Sept-Early Oct R
Green background R
Red Stripes R
My mother asked for comparison photos so she could see just how big these apples were. Remember there were only three on my little sapling this year out of the six that pollinated, and all three were huge. Here it is next to a nice sized Cortland from my orchard.
It also weighs in at a hefty 12.2 ounces. I did a quick study of my other old heirloom windfall apples and they range from about 5.5 oz to 7 or 8 for an extra large specimen.
So, in conclusion, I am much more inclined to believe that this is a Northern Spy than a Red Astrachan. All the characteristics point in that direction, as well as the comparison taste test. Am I happy? You bet. This is a great apple to have growing in the backyard. I look forward to many harvests and many pies!